Update (1 p.m.): Judge Mary Roman granted bail to Elizabeth Ramirez, Anna Vasquez, Cassie Rivera, and Kristie Mayhugh after the ‘San Antonio 4’ have spent as long as 15 years in prison for a crime that they claim never occurred.
The 3 women still incarcerated were not in the 175th district court today, and all the paperwork for the case was signed outside of public view. The Defense’s Mike Ware made the announcement that proved anticlimax for a packed court room that normally Is sparsely filled.
The 4 were accused by Elizabeth Ramirez’s nieces of sexually assaulting them nearly two decades ago now, a claim one of the girls would recant as an adult, saying she had been forced to lie by her father.
The District Attorney’s Office agreed that key forensic testimony and evidence was flawed and did not dispute the outcome of today’s hearing on those grounds, but the actual innocence of the women the state still disputes. Friday, Bexar County District Attorney, Susan Reed stated if the Court of Criminal Appeals rules the 4 can have a new trial, she will not proceed with it, effectively freeing the women for good.
Anna Vasquez, the only one of the convicted to be present today, was paroled a year ago under what Ware calls draconian parole stipulations.
These stipulations will raised as a result of the this hearing.
The case now is sent to the Court Criminal of Criminal Appeals in Austin. It has no date set nor deadline currently.
"I have spoken to one of the victims who has affirmed her testimony but doesn't really want to go through reliving all of this, and told me that. Consequently if the Court of Criminal Appeals says they get a new trial, I'm not going to proceed on that," said Reed.
The four women convicted of the rape of two young girls and then imprisoned for as long as 15 years have a hearing to reexamine their case Monday. Both the state and the defense believe the result should be relief. Relief would mean Elizabeth Ramirez, Kristie Mayhugh, and Cassandra Rivera could be released on bail while the Court of Criminal Appeals decides if a retrial is warranted. Anna Vasquez was released on parole last year.
The science and forensic testimony that many attributed to their conviction was found to be inaccurate. Nancy Kellogg, the State's expert witness at the time, has given a sworn affidavit to District Attorney Susan Reed's office stating her testimony would not be the same in a retrial.
That inaccurate testimony is the reason they are getting a hearing on Monday. Junk science, according to Mike Ware, chief defense Counsel for three of the four is what convicted these women, testimony they know now was wrong.
"That would have made a huge difference in the trial because the physical evidence was heavily relied upon because all the other evidence was very shaky," said Ware.
Despite one of the victims having affirmed their statement the defense says the other victims now in her twenties recanted her statement on what happened saying her father coached and threatened her if she didn't lie.
The hearing is set for Monday at 10:30 in the 175th District Court here in Bexar County.